PRISON EDUCATION REFORMS MAKE THE GRADE

The number of inmates completing literacy and numeracy programs has risen by 43 per cent under NSW Government reforms to the delivery of education in prisons.

Minister for Corrections David Elliott said the new education and training programs, introduced last year, put the focus back on the basic skills inmates need to gain employment upon release.

Inmates completing a literacy and numeracy qualification increased from 322 per year to 459 between 2015/16 and 2017/18, while those participating in vocational training programs leapt from 2,978 to 5,269 – an increase of 77 per cent – in the same period.

Of the estimated 10,200 offenders sentenced to six months or more in custody, 98 per cent completed core skills assessment to determine their immediate education needs.

“When we came into Government after 16 years of Labor, only 1 per cent of inmates were actually completing education programs they commenced,” Mr Elliott said.

“It wasn’t good enough and was a waste of taxpayer money. Our model targets inmates who lack the basic skills to get a job, shifting the focus back onto reading, writing and mathematics.

“We’re now seeing completion rates of 20 per cent across all educational programs offered in NSW prisons, giving inmates more chance to walk out of prison with the skills to get a job, and hopefully never come back.

“While there is still work to be done, the numbers are moving in the right direction.”

CSNSW Commissioner Peter Severin said priority for education and training is given to inmates with the highest learning needs and those most at risk of reoffending.

“One of the best ways to stop people from reoffending once they get out of prison is to make sure they have a job that keeps them busy and out of trouble,” Mr Severin said.

CSNSW works in partnership with BSI Learning and TAFE NSW to provide education and vocational training, which includes HSC subjects, Literacy and Numeracy, First Aid, Forklift, Welding, Food Preparation, Engineering and Asset Maintenance.